Mark and Barry Ch. 05bysam8©
The play had been denounced in letters to the editor, a TV news segment had run the night before, and a handful of protestors toted signs up and down the sidewalk. That was just what a college with a zero publicity budget needed. The house was almost full.
It went without a hitch. Everyone's performance was sharp, tech missed not a single cue, and at the emotional climax, where Barry and Mark's characters silently melted into each other's arms with a tender kiss, the audience held its breath. Donna and Mark's scene that ended the show made hearts ache with its understated longing. A half-standing ovation brought a second curtain call.
"Klimt," jotted the newspaper critic on his way out. Even those who went in anti-gay and expecting to be disgusted found themselves grudgingly acknowledging that love, and love lost, is timeless. No prejudiced mind was changed that night, but a few seeds of ideas like tolerance and beauty may have fallen into fertile ground and begun to sprout. Who could ask for more?
Backstage, the cast was giddy. Ms. Mahoney was proud and didn't bother to hide it. After everyone hugged, pounded each other on the back, and shared congratulations, she stepped in and gave a short speech. Because of the show's success, she would plan a dialogue with the audience, to be held after the sixth and final performance in nine days. She asked the cast to start thinking now about what kinds of questions would be asked and how they would answer.
And, she announced, there was an after-party prepared for them all, cast and crew, in the art building lounge.
The cast noshed on oatmeal cookies and juice, talking about the show.
"I still can't believe we pulled it off," Sherry was saying to the two stars of the show. "It was crazy how it all fit together. You guys rocked it."
"Aw, you know it wasn't just us," said Mark. "Nobody was anything without everyone else there too. Your phone call scene, very funny, just what we needed. Your scene with Donna where you're showing her how grimly determined you are to move on, that couldn't have been better."
"I think she means your making out with me," said Barry, and the boys got friendly chuckles and shoves when they re-enacted it on the spot as a big fake air-kiss.
"What did you think, Donna?" asked Mark. She'd been pleased, clearly, but unusually quiet all night.
"Well..." she said. "I'm a little worried about talking with the audience. I'm not really sure what to say."
"I'm sure that won't be a problem," said Sherry, "you never have a problem knowing what to say, I'm sure it'll come to you."
"That's the problem though," said Donna, and hesitated. "I'd have to be honest, you know? And say what I really think."
Tension froze them in place. Three pairs of eyes were drawn to Donna's hand, fingering the tiny gold cross she'd always worn around her neck.
"I just would have to say I don't believe in it, that's all. It's not the right choice," she said. "Homosexuality," she added, unnecessarily.
Mark and Barry struggled for what to say. Sherry stepped in.
"Donna! You can't really believe that. You don't think gays should have the same rights as the rest of us?"
"I believe in equal rights, yeah. But not special rights. And there's a difference between having the right, and doing what's right. I don't think people should be gay."
"How do you--? That's not--!"
Mark stepped in. "Donna, you don't think people choose to be gay, do you? Isn't it something you're born with?" Even as he was saying it, the words felt strange coming out of his mouth.
"Well, I don't know about that. Either way, it doesn't matter. It's not right, it's not natural, and people shouldn't do it. It's not my place to judge them. But what I believe is very clear on the subject. It's just not right, end of story."
Before he could think about how daring he was being, Mark put his arm around Barry's shoulder. "And what did you think when you saw two guys kissing, night after night? You blame us or think we're terrible people?"
Sherry turned to look at them.
"No," said Donna, who had clearly thought about this: "of course you're just two ordinary guys who are in a play about homosexuality. That doesn't make you terrible any more than someone who plays a murderer."
Things more or less fell apart. Mark found it awful that she thought being gay was like being a murderer, and Barry was offended that she thought she was in a play "about" being gay. ("It's so much more!" he thought.) Everyone talked at once. Zac couldn't get a word in edgewise. And Sherry, her dark eyes flashing, was furious, and only with great effort did she manage to simmer herself down to a silent resentment.
Donna stood her ground, mostly. By the time she said "I hope this doesn't affect our performances in tomorrow night's show" and walked back to her dorm, the mood had crashed. It was a dismal and confusing end to a night that had started so well.
Most of the other cast and crew -- Ms. Mahoney hadn't joined them -- wandered home. Mark, Barry and Sherry turned off half the lights and sat in the dim room talking. They knew they weren't going to make much sense of what had just happened, but they wanted to try.
And Sherry liked Mark, and liked being around him. She'd seen his dorm room the week before, once, briefly, invited in as a friend, and sitting there talking with him had just felt right. His mop of curly dark hair and crooked wide smile gave her a crush like a schoolgirl. And his broad shoulders and big hands stirred darker, stronger urges.
Both young men, horny as ever, enjoyed being in Sherry's company. She had an easy grin and a happy laugh that made them feel at home.
And -- when her gaze lit elsewhere -- neither of them minded taking a quick look at the swell of her breasts under her shirt, a glance at the way cloth clung to her girlish waist and womanly hips, or just a longing gaze at the parts of her creamy brown skin they could see. Her delicate ear, her lovely dark neck, her thin, agile fingers, all, to the long-deprived actors, was a banquet for the eyes.
Sherry was trying to work up the nerve to ask Mark if he'd like to go for a walk. Barry's presence and Donna's bombshell had thrown her off-balance. She had just convinced herself she could take the plunge when, shortly before midnight, the janitor stuck her head in and told them they'd have to vacate.
If Barry had only made himself scarce, Sherry thought, she would ask Mark to coffee. But he didn't, and the boys said they'd walk her across the street to her dorm, and they did, and after a goodnight hug she found herself stepping inside, to the warm, well-lit, empty stairs that led to her room.
"Okay, so that just happened," she muttered to herself, trudging upstairs.
Mark and Barry walked back to Mark's dorm building.
"What do you think?" he asked Barry as they stood at the entrance. "Yeah," was all Barry needed to say. "Yeah." He walked up to Mark's dorm with him.
Mark's couch faced the door. As it swung shut, he strode across the room and fell onto it. "Long fucking day," he said.
Barry walked to the bookshelf and ran a finger across some spines. After a moment, he posed a question without looking. "Do you feel good about this?"
"You mean what we're about to do?"
Mark opened his mouth with a snappy answer ready, then closed it and thought.
"I guess I do feel good. I mean, not just feeling good. I mean, getting off with you feels pretty fucking amazing of course. But that's not what I mean..."
He took a breath and started over. "I mean, I kinda think of this as two friends helping each other out, you know? I think we've gotten to be pretty good friends, right?"
"Yeah," said Barry, still not looking.
"And friends help each other out sometimes. Both of us are having a lean couple of months girl-wise, so we fool around a little, relax, have a good time. ...right?"
Barry paused. Back still turned, he asked: "You ever think you might be gay?"
"Hell no," was Mark's immediate answer.
"Hear me out. Not completely gay. But... maybe it's not black and white. Maybe people aren't all one way or the other. And maybe sometimes it takes a couple of... episodes... to recognize where you fall on that spectrum."
"Uh. Are you trying to tell me you're in love with me or something?"
Barry turned. "No. But Mark, I do like you. As a friend, yes, I like hanging out, I like you. And, like you say, it's felt really good the few times that we've had sex. Physically. But I enjoyed being close to you too. I dunno. Warm feelings, you know?"
Mark had sat upright, brow furrowed, hands on his lap. "Barry, look... it really sounds like you're trying to tell me you're gay, and that's OK, but I -- I'm not," and he put a hand to his forehead, "I'm not looking for a relationship with you. I'm really not gay."
"I know. Neither am I."
"I just like fucking around with you. If that's a problem --"
"It's not a problem. That's what I want too."
"Then why --"
Barry looked Mark in the eye. "Gay is just a word, Mark. It's just a word. I don't think I am, and I don't think you are. But there's plenty of ways to be, besides plain old gay or plain old straight."
"No, let me finish. I have feelings for you, Mark. Not gay lover boyfriend feelings. I'm not gonna be jealous if you get a girlfriend. I don't want to go out on dates. I just like you, that's all. I like fucking around with you, not just because it feels good, cause you're my friend.
"It took me a while to acknowledge that to myself, and now I'm telling you 'cause I think that's the fair thing to do.
"And," Barry continued, "at some point, you might think about how you feel about me when we're fucking. I think you like more than just me jacking you off. You can enjoy just being around me, without being... gay."
Mark had about a hundred things to say about all that, but when Barry was done talking, he couldn't think of which one was important enough to bring up first. And then, after a long silence, none of those things really seemed all that important anyway.
"I don't really know about any of that," he finally said, "but..."
He paused. This next part was going to be difficult.
"...but I do like it, when we fuck."
It seemed easy to say, once it was out. He'd had an awful hard time admitting it, though.
"And," he said, "as long as you don't expect anything from me, or get all clingy and shit, I don't have a problem with any of that stuff you said."
Barry, after a moment, smiled. "Well, OK," he said.
"You wanna fuck?" he added.
Donna and Sherry had gone home to their respective dorms. But while Donna simply started getting ready for bed, Sherry fretted.
She knew she wouldn't be able to sleep.
She paced her small single room, trying to work up the nerve.
She'd talked about him, giggling, with a trusted girlfriend, and had been too shy to reveal his name. She'd gotten hot thinking about him. She'd masturbated, once, to the memory of him kissing Barry -- and him kissing her.
She knew it was just a crush. But it was a good crush. A strong, grown-girl crush, the kind to satisfy not with daydreams and giggling but with good hearty romping in bed for a couple weeks, maybe until the end of the term.
She didn't think he'd care about the play coming between them. She knew he didn't have a girlfriend. She knew she wasn't so hideous that he'd be disgusted if she made a pass.
And she knew it would feel so right, for him to grab her ankles and --
She paced some more. Then opened her closet.
If she was going to do something about this, the street clothes she'd changed back into weren't it.
She looked at the dresses. Then took off her jeans.
"Oh God, that feels good," said Mark.
Through his shirt, Barry was squeezing the knots out of his shoulders. The tension of weeks of rehearsal broke up in flares of agony, and sweet relaxation.
"Let me massage you," said Barry.
They thought about that for a minute.
"Actually," said Barry, "we're both smelly and dirty from the show. Let's clean up. And then I'll give you a massage."
They stripped down. It felt odd and awkward to undress in front of each other. They stepped into the batroom and each looked away, embarrassed, as the other peed. The steam misted over the mirror as they both stepped into the shower stall and closed the curtain.
Mark wasn't looking at Barry. But he was still acutely aware of the two of them, fully naked men, standing wet and close. They took turns stepping into the spray, chests and pale butts splashed with water, until rivulets ran down off their limp, innocent-looking dicks.
Barry was looking at Mark. He watched him soap up. Mark rubbed a lather into his wispy-hairy chest and belly, up and down his arms, and then, self-consciously, rubbed frothy soap all over, around, and under his dick and balls. Barry couldn't tell if Mark was blushing as he bent, awkwardly, to wash up and down each leg. The water splashed over him as he handed over the bar of soap and lifted each arm to wash out the day's stink.
Barry didn't feel the least bit shy. Mark wasn't a lover, but he wasn't a stranger either. Just a good friend.
One whose dick he wanted to suck tonight.
He hadn't really considered it before the thought popped, fully-formed, into his head, but he knew: before the night was over, he was going to see what it was like to suck on Mark's dick.
Barry turned his face into the spray, and Mark took a moment to admire his body. A man's body, strong and solid. His hips, shoulders, and thighs were rounded and soft, but concealed great power.
As they rinsed, and toweled off, standing nude in the bathroom together, Barry thought he felt his own cock swell, just a little, thinking about touching Mark. Touching him everywhere.
A couple of dry towels under him, and Mark lay on his stomach, head turned on folded arms, in the middle of the room. Barry squirted massage oil onto his back, and spread it around.
Mark had a broad, sculpted back, and Barry's hands slid smoothly all over it. With his palms, he spread the oil up, over his shoulderblades, and down past his waist to the upturned globes of his tush. With his fingers, he kneaded Mark's buttocks gently, and rubbed slowly up to grip his shoulders.
Kneeling beside him, Barry was able to rub all along the swimmer's strong back and sides, massaging in the oil until every inch was smooth to the touch.
Mark's pale butt felt cool. It was warming as Barry's hands returned to it again and again. He would cup the cheeks, then squeeze them, and then try a firm grip as he slid both thumbs up along the dark cleft. He enjoyed pinching the base of his butt, at the faint wrinkle, and watching Mark tense and relax.
He found he enjoyed slowly running a finger or two from his neck, all the way down his spine, and letting it gently trace down to his butt crack.
And, when, kneeling beside the nude young man, facing his head, Barry would grasp his butt and waist, he couldn't help but be reminded of having, in the past, taken the same grip of several young ladies.
Hands oily, he rubbed and squeezed Mark's shoulders, neck and biceps until they loosened up. He ran his hands in streaking patterns down from butt to thigh, past the backs of his knees, down to his feet. Mark's thighs were thicker than he'd expected, firmer, solidly built. He'd never grasped a man's legs before. Just hairy enough to be masculine.
He gently ran his hands up those legs, thumbs sliding along the sensitive inner thighs until he squeezed the fleshy butt cheeks. Mark shifted slightly, feeling a little more exposed.
"That feels really good, but... I'd feel a little better if..."
"Yes?" asked Barry, after a pause.
"Ah... I get nervous when you're playing with my ass. I don't really want you sticking a finger up my ass. Um, let me know if you're gonna try that or anything, ok?"
"I'm not going to do anything you don't want. If I do, just let me know and I'll stop."
"Thanks bud." Mark gave a small twisting body stretch, then relaxed in the same pose, with his legs just slightly more apart.
Barry turned, kneeling beside Mark's chest, facing his feet, and put more oil on his hands.
He focused, now, on the swimmer's ass. His buttocks were so squeezable. He kneaded them a few times, then started rubbing up and down his crack, oily fingers parting the fleshy cheeks and sliding a little deeper each time. Mark was shifting and making small noises. Barry noticed his own dick, resting in his lap, was starting to stand up. Soon his fingertips were buried, sliding all the way up and down the warm, hairy skin from Mark's sacrum, across his asshole, to his ball sack, back and forth, nestled deep between the young man's cheeks.
Mark drew breath as Barry slowly and gently stretched his fingers out to give a tickling caress to the underside of his ball sack, before sliding them back up his taint, and starting to give a gentle circling pressure around the rim of his asshole.
"I know you're not gay, but that's gotta feel good, right?" asked Barry. He got a "yeah," after a pause.
Barry massaged his ass a while longer, rubbing him everywhere, slicking up his asshole and his inner thighs, and pushing and squeezing those tight butt cheeks over and over.
There was an erect penis hidden underneath, flattened against the towel, and every time Barry rubbed the stretch of flesh between asshole and balls, he could feel its root. Swollen stiff. Buried and waiting.
"OK," said Mark after a while. "You ready to do my front now?"
The sophomore turned on his back, laying one arm at his side, the other gently draped next to Barry. His slender, dry prick was at full attention, sprouting from a clean nest of curls and lifting itself into the air just above his tight belly. Its thin, purple head gave gentle, tiny bounces again his bellybutton with his breathing and heartbeat.
Barry smiled. He wasn't exactly turned-on by the sight of Mark's cock. Not exactly. But he was warmed -- excited -- by knowing that he was going to stroke and suck that cock and make it feel good. It was a thrill.
He oiled his hands again, and knelt forward to rub the liquid all the way down Mark's legs. He worked his way back up, massaging first his feet, sliding up his shins, circling his knees, and squeezing and massaging the front of Mark's powerful thighs.
When he reached his groin, he gave one gentle squeeze to smear the oil all around Mark's ball sack. Then he ran his hands further up, past his dick, ignoring it, sliding his fingers under it to give a tickling rub to his belly, turning as he went, to massage and squeeze his pecs. Turning more, he rubbed the heels of his hands from nipple to collarbone and pinched and squeezed his shoulder muscles.
Mark's eyes were open. "Forget something?"
"I don't think I forgot it."
"I think you missed a spot."
Barry grinned and stopped for a moment. "Dude, we've got all the time we want. You know you're gonna get off in the end anyway. I don't wanna just slam it out like we did before. It's always hotter with a girl to work up to it nice and slow, right? So let's just take this nice and slow."
Mark closed his eyes. When had he ever been this hard? The night he lost his virginity? Maybe.
Barry rubbed more oil down his arms, from his thick biceps down to his hands. With his fingertips he rubbed patterns into Mark's palms, gentle and slow. A connection between them was forming.
The teasing touch of another man on his hands electrified Mark. Before, that kind of erotic male touch had brought, with the pleasure, a wave of revulsion and self-disgust looming in the darkness behind. Now, he made a mental effort, and surged forward on the wave of lust rising within him. Barry's fingers, circling his palm, were twisting his arousal sideways, turning it inside-out.